A big lovely hello to Kate Rigby and the blog tour for her novel, Thalidomide Kid.
Daryl Wainwright is the quirky youngest child of a large family of petty thieves and criminals who calls himself ‘Thalidomide Kid’.
Celia Burkett is the new girl at the local primary school, and the daughter of the deputy head at the local comprehensive where she is bound the following September. With few friends, Celia soon becomes fascinated by ‘the boy with no arms’.
The story of a blossoming romance and sexual awakening between a lonely girl and a disabled boy, and their struggle against adversity and prejudice as they pass from primary to secondary school in 1970s Cirencester. The story deals with themes and issues that are timeless.
Kate has shared an extract today. In this excerpt, the headmistress Miss Bond reveals to Celia’s family that Celia has been seen skiving lessons school with Daryl.
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When they got to the pudding – fruit salad with lychees, continuing the Chinese theme – Celia fought back tears as she racked her brain.
Her dad spoke first. “Was that you, Celia?”
“Was that me what?”
“What Barbara was just saying?”
Celia looked blank, whereupon Miss Bond repeated her question with due emphasis. “I thought I saw you yesterday, Celia, walking down the Tetbury Road during school hours with the young Wainwright boy.”
Shit bricks! Miss Bond had seen them.
“I wasn’t feeling well.” She said the first thing that came into her head. “I … had … I had a stomach ache. Daryl said he’d walk with me as far as town and I had to sit down so we went to a coffee bar. I needed to drink something.”
Her father had a look of restrained incredulity. “You didn’t tell your teacher or think of reporting to the sick bay?”
She had no answer to this but to say: “I didn’t think. I just wanted to go home.”
“That doesn’t explain why the Wainwright boy wasn’t attending his lesson,” Dad said.
“A case of skivitis, I suspect,” said Miss Bond. “Though he shouldn’t really be treated any differently from anyone else who breaks school rules. That won’t do him any good at all.”
Celia wished they’d stop calling him the Wainwright boy. She wished they’d give him a chance instead of thinking the worst of him all the time, but the matter didn’t rest there. After Miss Bond had thanked them for a lovely evening and driven off in her Rover, her father’s smile evaporated, his face clouding over all serious.
“I mean, how d’you think it made me look,” he said, “hearing it second-hand from Barbara that my own daughter was absent from class?”
“It’s not fair. Other people don’t have to have the head telling their dads things. It’s like being spied on, isn’t it, Abby?”
But Abby was keeping out of it, collecting up the best glasses for Dad to wash, the best glasses being Dad’s department.
“Well, I want you to go upstairs immediately and write two letters of apology; firstly to the teacher whose class you missed and secondly to Barbara. Do I make myself clear?”
Mum started drying the glasses, dripping soap suds on the draining board as she picked them up. Then she said: “What were you doing with that boy anyway, Celia? We’d rather you didn’t keep that sort of company.”
“What sort of company?” Celia barked.
“A boy who plays truant.”
“And steals,” added her father, tapping out the ash from his pipe. “We saw him with our own eyes. Him and his recidivist family in Pricerite last summer.”
“It’s not fair, it’s not fair,” she said again, wishing that Dad wouldn’t keep using his big words on her. “He did it for his mum, that’s why. They’re poor. They’ve got to have food, haven’t they?”
Surely Mum and Dad could remember the shabby coats of Sherrie and Mrs Wainwright, all that lining hanging out. “I don’t think I like your tone, young lady,” her father said. “Well, I’m not having it.” He looked to her mother. “Do you think I’m being unreasonable, Lorna?”
“Certainly not,” said her mother, looking increasingly ridiculous in her kaftan with every passing minute. “Certainly not, John. We’ve both been a bit too moderate.”
Celia thumped off upstairs and threw herself face down onto the pink flowers of her continental quilt, head on hands. It was only Abby with her “Skiving in the first year, eh? You’ll be expelled by the third year at this rate,” who managed to raise a snuffled giggle out of Celia.
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Kate Rigby was born near Liverpool and now lives in the south-west of England. She’s been writing for nearly forty years. She has been traditionally published, small press published and indie published.
She realized her unhip credentials were mounting so she decided to write about it. Little Guide to Unhip was first published in 2010 and has since been updated.
However she’s not completely unhip. Her punk novel, Fall Of The Flamingo Circus was published by Allison & Busby (1990) and by Villard (American hardback 1990). Skrev Press published her novels Seaview Terrace (2003) Sucka!(2004) and Break Point (2006) and other shorter work has appeared in Skrev’s magazines.
Thalidomide Kid was published by Bewrite Books (2007).
Her novel Savage To Savvy was an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA) Quarter-Finalist in 2012.
She has had other short stories published and shortlisted including Hard Workers and Headboards, first published in The Diva Book of Short Stories, in an erotic anthology published by Pfoxmoor Publishing and more recently in an anthology of Awkward Sexcapades by Beating Windward Press.
She also received a Southern Arts bursary for her novel Where A Shadow Played (now re-Kindled as Did You Whisper Back?).
She has re-Kindled her backlist and is gradually getting her titles (back) into paperback